Use to be, folks would go calling on Sunday afternoons — long leisurely face-to-face visits rather than the at most, quick chats on the phone that suffice these days.
The visits often came by surprise. At my grandparent’s house, the visitors were mostly family, who just dropped by to chat without making an appointment. Invariably, the impromptu call would interrupt the standing Sunday afternoon domino or Canasta game taking place at the kitchen table. But no one viewed this as a problem. Those playing would put their game on ice, or put it all away for later, and they and their surprise guests would make their way to the living room to visit.
It was a different time then. Certainly, the pace was slower. But it was more a difference in attitude in that folks didn’t regard Sunday as just another day of the week. For sure, you’d never have caught my Granny doing her shopping at Safeway on Sunday’s. No, Ma’am. Sundays were special. Sundays were reserved for morning church and big lunches and gathering family and playing games. And if some of the family that dropped in were unexpected, well, so much the better.
As my brother and I were making our way down to call on Daddy today, I was thinking about my grandparent’s unexpected Sunday visitors all those years ago — and how now, every guest Daddy receives is an unexpected visitor. Like a child, Dad has lost his ‘poker face’ skills, for Dad always wears that slightly befuddled look when he first sees us — rather than pretending to know who we are.
But today, Dad was actually at home. And not just physically. Daddy pointed his finger at objects, his way of giving us his commands — like when he wanted to go to the bathroom, or be put into his recliner. Daddy flipped through the newspaper I brought — and he really read a article on the sports page. And as my brother and I were having a conversation about our favorite Frank Sinatra tunes, Daddy followed our conversation, shaking his head in memory of songs he liked too.
I also told Daddy that his granddaughter Abigail turned sixteen today; “Daddy, can you believe today is Abigail’s sixteenth birthday?” And just like it was nothing special, Daddy shook his head ‘no’, in the wonder of it all. And, of course, it was so incredibly special that Daddy shook his head at all, because in his shaking, Daddy connected with me in a moment of wonder that was, in and of itself, as wonderful as what we both wondered at together.
Our visit was exactly what a surprise Sunday visit should be: The host received the treat of surprised guests and we, his guests, found our host home. And like two little pigs who’d gone to market, my brother and I celebrated our good fortune all the way back home.
And then, because we all have to come back to earth and reality sooner or later, my brother asked me to take him to the market so he could buy a few groceries. And though I could have picked up a few groceries myself, I decided to sit this one.
After all, why ruin a perfectly good Sunday with grocery shopping?